The Biggest Twitch

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: The Biggest Twitch
From: Jill Dening <>
Date: Wed, 02 Jan 2008 08:56:48 +1000
Hi Everyone,

What Peter has written below is true in my own case: after a prolonged trip, I used my newly-acquired knowledge for furthering shorebird interests. Here is what I wrote privately to Alastair Smith a few moments ago:

"Hi Alastair,

I couldn't agree with you more. The sanctimonious attitudes are sometimes a little depressing.

My husband, James, and I took off in early 1993 in a massive motorhome with a garage at the rear, in which we carried a tiny, cut-down Mini panelvan. We both had to get truck drivers' licenses to drive the motorhome. We were on the road for three years, with our primary focus on birding. It was just fabulous, being relaxed, seeing new birds without any pressure (we are not good twitchers, though James is keener than I am to go the extra mile) and so we returned with a big list of Australian birds, but more importantly an overview of Australian birds and their habitats. That's when I realised that on the Sunshine Coast we had unusually large flocks of migratory terns, and which led me to undertake studies of our local area.

So if you ever get the chance, drop everything and go for it. It's a wonderful world, as long as you don't run through it too fast.


Jill Dening

Alastair Smith wrote:
It's interesting the way this news has been received on this forum. Why
can't we just be happy for them and supportive of their quest rather than
lambasting their carbon usage? I am in awe and will be eagerly following
their postings as I did for Sean Dooley's Big Year. If I had the money I
can't think of a better way of spending 12 months, though it would probably
be more enjoyable to do it at a less frantic pace.
Good on them!

Peter Shute wrote:
I would imagine some benefits will flow to a few people whose low
incomes are not supplemented by the usual tourists, as they'll need
guides and accomodation in some remote places.

And it depends what they do with the information and the experience they
gain.  If they record not much more than a tick in a field guide, then
not much is gained.  If they contribute to atlasses then it's a bit more
useful.  If they become experienced and knowledgeable, but never help a
beginner, then they've been less useful than if they did.

I wonder how their fuel consumption would compare to, say, a Dakar Rally

Peter Shute

 wrote on Wednesday, 2 January 2008
8:44 AM:
I agree that they will have used a lot of fuel and are
unlikely to add to our scientific knowledge - but then most
human activities fall in this category. I know that 90%+ of
my birding trips fall in this category (the exceptions being
things like wader counts). Certainly in the case of Sean
Dooley's record the same criticisms can be made - but many of
us also got a great deal of enjoyment following his progress
and reading the book. If as a result of their efforts they
get some publicity and that makes some more people aware of
birds - then maybe the effort will be worthwhile. Hard to
tell until we see what the result.

On 02/01/2008, Keith Weekes <> wrote:
Impressive isn't quite the word that I would use for it. If they
succeed in their attempt they will have achieved nothing more than
spent a lot of money and burnt a lot of fuel, while contributing
virtually nothing to the scientific body of knowledge, since most
birds will be from tip offs from someone else.

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